Lard used to be one of the most popular cooking fats (especially during World War II when there was a butter shortage) but it’s not as common in most households these days. Lard is similar to butter in consistency but it contains less saturated fat, which might be surprising to you (it was to us!).
One of the benefits of lard is its long shelf life, lasting six months at room temperature, one year in the refrigerator, and at least two years if stored in the freezer!
We’ll cover everything you ever wanted to know about how to best store lard below!
What is the shelf life of lard?
Lard has an impressive shelf life and will last even longer than butter when stored in the right conditions. At room temperature, lard has a shelf life of around six months. If you store lard in the fridge, it will last around a year (sometimes more depending on the manufacturer). Most impressively, lard will last over two years if you store it in the freezer.
How long does lard last after opening?
When you buy lard (a tub or sticks of it), there should be a “best by” or expiration date printed somewhere. After you open the lard, it should last as long as we mentioned before (6 months at room temp, 1 year in the fridge, 2+ years in the freezer), but the expiration date would trump those guidelines.
In other words, if you open a tub of lard that expires in two months, you should throw it out after that point and not use it for the next year, even if it’s stored in the fridge.
|6 months||1 year||2+ years|
Can you use lard after its expiration date?
There are no hard and fast rules about how long products last past their expiration dates. In general, expiration dates err on the conservative side to ensure you enjoy the product while it’s still fresh and at its peak.
Like most products, you’re likely safe to eat lard when it’s only slightly past its expiration date. However, if you notice any signs that the expired lard is going bad (we’ll cover that next!), then you should throw it out and not take any chances of getting an upset stomach from eating rancid lard.
How to tell if lard went bad
Lard has a pretty impressive shelf life, but how do you know if it’s gone bad? Fortunately, there are several signs to watch out for to determine if lard is past its prime.
Odor: If lard gives off a “soapy” aroma or smells like other non-food items (chemical smells like paint, detergent, etc.), then it’s gone bad.
Taste: When it’s good, lard should have a neutral flavor, which can range from almost flavorless to having a very mild pork flavor. If lard has gone bad, it will have a bitter taste or otherwise unpleasant flavor.
Appearance: Lard should be a soft white color when it’s good, so if there is any discoloration it can be a sign that it’s gone bad. While lard and other fats aren’t usually prone to mold, if there is any discoloration or signs of mold then you should absolutely toss it.
What’s the danger in using lard after it’s gone bad?
Unlike some perishable foods like meat and dairy which can harbor bacteria if they’ve gone bad, you’re not at great risk of getting seriously sick from eating lard after it’s gone bad. The more significant concerns with eating bad lard are that it won’t taste good (it could ruin the dish you were working hard on!), and you might have a sour stomach if you eat enough of it.
Best storage practices for lard
- If you plan to get the most out of the shelf life of lard, be sure to pop it in the fridge instead of keeping it in your pantry or at room temperature. This would be ideal if you don’t use lard very often.
- Regardless of where you store lard, make sure it’s tightly sealed to keep air and moisture out, which will preserve its freshness.
- Keep lard away from direct heat and sunlight, especially if it’s in a glass or otherwise non-opaque container.
Fresh lard should be a creamy white color. If the color is anything besides white, it’s a sign that it might have gone bad.
Lard isn’t likely to go rancid until it’s been stored at room temperature beyond six months, in the fridge for over a year, or in the freezer for several years. While lard is less likely to go rancid when stored in the fridge or freezer, it will likely lose its ideal flavor and won’t be as flavorful as using fresh lard.